Thanksgiving

My Nana died when I was 14. She gave me a suede brown shirt the year before she died. She taught me how to play poker. And she made the best eggs-on-a-raft (a toad in a hole, to others). She also hosted Thanksgiving for years and years. One holiday, the event was big enough that we divided up into two tables. Someone had the bright idea to have a lottery system; rather than dividing up into the sensible kids and adult tables, we all drew numbers, with most landing at the dining room table and a few unlucky souls ending up at the less desirable kitchen table. I scored a seat at the main table, but a great aunt was stuck in the kitchen. As we prepped and got ready for our seats, my dad pleaded and bribed me to swap seats with my elder relative. Little stinker that I was, I stubbornly refused. I must have seemed like an incorrigible kid, but really I just wanted to sit at the same table as my Nana. I would have sat in the kitchen easily if she was seated there too.

When my Nana got sick with cancer, she moved in with her daughter, my aunt, who took over Thanksgiving that year and has since hosted.

Today is a day when we are supposed to be outwardly thankful, announcing our gratitude frequently and publicly. I have spent the past nine months working hard on finding gratitude on a daily basis- today I’m taking a break. It’s not that I’m not grateful-I have so much to be thankful for- health, family, friends, work- but I’m feeling rather melancholy. I woke up thinking of my Nana. I made myself an egg on a raft in her memory.

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Mabel is of course on my mind. This time last year I was pictured attending the next year’s Thanksgiving with a baby. She’d be wearing little leg braces for her clubbed feet and would be still working on eating solid foods. I was optimistic, but realistic. Today, after some debate, I will attend my family’s Thanksgiving. It will be hard, as I go through the motions of living out the next holiday without my baby.

Every action today is a reminder that my baby is not here. I will go be with relatives whose lives have moved on while mine has stood still. I’ve debated skipping to simply avoid the pain, the memories and the reminders- but there are some things I have to face and it’s time. If it’s too much, I’ll simply leave. For now I’ll focus on the good food in my near future. I look forward to the carrots my mom makes every year.

My therapist said it best as we said our goodbyes last week- I hope you have the best Thanksgiving you can.

What is Thanksgiving like for you today?

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8 thoughts on “Thanksgiving

  1. Love the eggs – isn’t it funny how often food is connected to sweet memories of loved ones?
    Last Thanksgiving we were barely 6 weeks out of losing A&C. We didn’t grow up here, so it doesn’t have the same significance it’ll have for you. In an effort to not sit home all day and cry, we went to a Thanksgiving potluck organized by some of H’s friends. It was a good distraction, although with a pregnancy announcement thrown in as a painful reminder, and basically no acknowledgement of our loss and pain.
    I hope your family will be kind and supportive while giving you the space you need so that you can, indeed, have the best Thanksgiving possible this year.

  2. Love the eggs – I grew up calling those eggs in a nest. Your blog is something that I look forward to reading. You articulate the grieving process so well. Others lives have kept moving while ours have stood still…..really resignated today. We live in colorado and our families live in Illinois and Michigan, we chose not to travel and stayed home with our dog and tried to remember everything we should be thankful for. I hope you had the best thanksgiving that you could.

    • That you. That’s exactly how I felt- seeing the markers of others’ lives (specifically children and babies) forward motion and feeling so stuck and angry that mine not only was the same, but almost went backwards. A nice quite thanksgiving with the dog sounds lovely. I hope you had the best thanksgiving you could too.

  3. What a lovely memory of your Nana. I’ve also thought a lot about my grandmother today.

    My older sister, who I have an epically awful relationship with, had a baby earlier this month… My family has tried to be so supportive through this, but it’s hard, you go into grief with the relationships you have and not the ones you wish you had. But the dysfunction and pain there is now simply unbearable.

    SO, I definitely did not go to my parents’, where much of my extended family gathered. Even at baseline, it was always hard for me to go there, painful and scary and not enjoyable. My ex-husband was a good buffer, but now that’s gone too. Instead, I was lucky to have a very good friend invite me to his family’s house… Time to focus on the good relationships and the people who are kind to me. Sacha has given me that freedom. Thankful for my little boy.

    • Ouch- a brand new baby around thanksgiving (especially with a complicated relationship) sounds painful, especially without a buffer! CHris was flying home yesterday and if he didnt make it in time, I frankly would not have gone. I’m so glad you had a more enjoyable thanksgiving with friends. It is amazing, how our children have freed us to focus on the good relationships. totally something to be thankful for. thank you for that reminder.

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